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 South Asian Forum of Employers || SAFE :: Summary & Draft Report of last meeting at Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2nd & 3rd October 2012
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 Subject :Report part 07 - Presentations.. 09-01-2013 01:54:32 
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Report part 07 - Presentations

Pakistan  - Mr. Haji Muhammad Javed, Chairman EFP

Mr. Javed stated that that EFP is trying continuously to improve its ‘lobbying’ role. He listed areas in which the EFP has taken steps to make a change and improve. One such important area is Health and primary education. Continuous advocacy with Federal Secretary Labour and Manpower, Minister for Provincial Health and other senior officials of federal and provincial governments to enhance and adopt the OSH guidelines. Continuous efforts by the EFP saw many positive actions being taken/enabled the same to be taken. For example in 2011an enterprise policy on OSH and Education was adopted and the Best Practice awards in OSH and Education have been awarded for the past 7 years. Much effort is also being taken with regard to the elimination of child labour.

Also with the EFP is a member on most commissions relating to gender equality  the organization serves on many commissions on gender equality.

When it comes to skills development, the EFP’s skills development councils outnumbered the public initiatives.

Mr. Syed Saud Alam, Officer in Charge, EFP

Internal activities of the EFP include the following:

  • Membership development: this is increasing and will continue to do so. The new strategy by the EFP this year s to attract Small Farmers Association of Sahiwal District as a member. The EFP is continuously striving to improve services in order to cater to all member needs.
  • New phase initiatives include recruitments to strengthen the secretariat, and the areas of advocacy, lobbying and PR to be strengthened.
  • To provide the similar basic services as other Employers organizations.
  • Establish regional offices.
  • Strengthen social dialogue – Mr. Alam spoke of the problems faced when a big franchise threatened to leave Pakistan because of certain labour law violations in the factory, and how through lobbying the EFP managed to stop this move. This sent a message to the other employers, a positive one at that, about the EFP.
  • With regard to Afghan refugee workers, support was rendered to them by the EFP in identifying decent work deficits and attending to them.
  • The EFP also conducted awareness raising programmes for brick kiln workers.

Sri Lanka – Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe , Deputy Director General, EFC

Mr. Weerasinghe addressed the gathering stating that the EFC is becoming the voice of business on employment issues. It strengthened its position by consolidating its competence in the advisory and facilitation role, while maintaining links with stakeholders that assisted in effective dispute settlement.

He stated that the EFC lobbies with the Government on labour policy/labour reforms issues and making submissions in that regard, while maintaining links with all government agencies for purposes of policy formulation, lobbying and representing employer interests. Today the EFC is engaged in dispute prevention, resolution, productivity enhancement and social responsibility initiatives.

The increased representative character of the EFC is evidenced by its regional outreach - the EFC has linked up with regional chambers extending assistance to them and the member base. Signing of two MOUs of Cooperation with Hambantotas and Yarzhpanam Chambers of Commerce has increased the representative capacity of EFC.

It is widely appreciated that the EFC has the ability to articulate employer positions at a macro level that would assist employers with different capacities. For this, credibility and consistency has been the key.

Capacity building has been identified as one of EFC’s strategic objectives consequent to a brain storming/training programme conducted for professional staff in 2001. Further more in 2011 a training programme for the professional staff was conducted by Mr. Arnout de Koster on ‘How an Employer Organization could lobby effectively’. A survey was conducted among the members on the ‘Impact of Labour laws and employment generation’. It is noteworthy that the EFC website is used as a tool to enhance EFC standing among stakeholders and the general public and that there are currently over 860,000 hits on the site, including hits from over 144 countries as well.

The achievements of the EFC in this regard are listed as follows:

  • Currently administrative relaxation granted on spread over of working hours on Saturday, on five days of the week without overtime payments
  • Proposal by Trade Unions to abolish contract labour in Sri Lanka was converted to a proposal to amend a provision in the current Waged Board Ordinance
  • Joint corporation with regional partners (as stated above)
  • Enhanced ‘visibility’ of the EFC

However, in terms of challenges, interpretation of some labour standards, such as those relating to freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, are sometimes ignored, and the EFC has to face the pressures from governments/ regional blocs, international trade unions, NGOs on the basis of complaints made by local Unions against individual companies resulting in stoppage of orders.

Mr. Ravi Peiris

The original role of the EFC was that of mere trouble shooting. It was established as an offshoot of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. However in 1981, the role of the EFC changed with the liberalization of the economy and foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka, and EFC assumed a more proactive role. Their services were expanded and rather than waiting for disputes to arise, prevention was looked at and there has also been growing emphasis on training and development. These are also revenue generators for the EFC.

The EFC is mindful in being relevant and sensitive to member needs. The member base in 1992 was 287 and by 2012 it increased to 573. The EFC also renders free advisory services to members either written or verbal. The revenue structure of the EFC is as follows:

  • Subscriptions
  • Legal representation
  • Training
  • Publications

The EFC set up the HR Solutions Unit in 2011, which generated an income of approximately Rs. 1 million last year. The EFC is always looking at new areas of service – this is to satisfy member needs and enhance visibility as well as identify new sources of income.

New initiatives are as follows:

  • A proposal to the government on Workplace Relations Act to focus on Enterprise relations with components such as grievance handling.
  • Strengthening of the HR unit – The HR solutions unit is organizing a HR symposium, for members and non members, on ‘Harnessing Innovation for Organizational Sustainability’. Further a HR network meeting is held at the EFC on a quarterly basis among HR professionals, to discuss HR related topics.

India – Mr. Shitangshu Taye, Research Associate, All India Organization of Employers

The AIOE was set up in 1932 and it is considered to be the apex National Employers Organization in India, an allied body of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. It is a constituent of the Council of Indian Employers and an association of public private enterprises. The membership consists of Associations, Corporate sector and also individuals. However My. Taye stated that the recent trend of membership is low and that this is attributable to the economy being more inclined towards the service sector and the emergence of various other HR and IR forums.

Services include free access to labour related information, publications and data base, involving members in many activities as well as bi and tri partied fora, organizing workshops on IR, HRM and labour law, awarding the AIOE award for outstanding IR.

The recent initiatives include the following:

  • Go green concept
  • Digitalization
  • Skills development
  • Involving Trade unions
  • Working towards giving service sector orientation to labour laws
  • Working on a ‘code of conduct’
  • Affirmative action by the AIOE includes the adoption of a remote district for imparting vocational training for the youth living there

Afghanistan -  Mr. Mohammad Qurban Haqjo

First and foremost, Mr. Haqjo appreciated the importance to build the managerial and technical capacity of the ACCI and also relations with the government and public and the importance in enhancing services to increase further the membership.

Some of the services offered by ACCI ( a voluntary membership chamber) are as follows:

  • Interest representation
  • Interest activities
  • Investment and export promotion
  • Business development services
  • Arbitration and legal services ( ACCI is viewed to be the ultimate dispute resolution center)

As the ACCI has a broad mandate, intense capacity building is required. Moreover ACCI faces the need of serving a diverse membership. In the past 5 years the membership has increased by approximately 35000, a huge step forward, but also a challenge. Financial sustainability also has to be maintained. Furthermore due to the weakness of unions in Afghanistan, the task of balancing employee needs -through encouraging its members to respect the basic rights of the employees and adhere to  better work principles during the course of employment- has also fallen on the ACCI.

The ACCI also facilitates technical training programmes and places great importance in encouraging tripartite functioning.

Nepal – Mr. Hansa Ram Pandey, Director, FNCCI

Mr. Pandey acknowledged the fact that organizational development and capacity building are essential to face the present challenges. The FNCCI is fully aware of this and has taken all measures to the best of their ability to ensure that this is achieved. He stated however that currently the main focus is on reformation and restructuring of the FNCCI. He also stated that capacity building with staff development is underway, as a first step. With regard to membership development he stated that the membership increases every year and that the FNCCI has from time to time developed policies for provision of services for different sectors.

When talking of revenue generation, Mr. Pandey stated that revenue from membership fees was not adequate and hence it is important to identify other sources for income, necessary to meet expenses and enhance services. Other sources include:

  • Service charge for issuing certificates of origin
  • Charging fees on training programmes
  • Organizing Trade fairs
  • Selling publications
  • Charging for other services

Recent changes and developments include the following:

  • Training unit revived
  • Legal service unit strengthened
  • Research and information unit upgraded
  • Energy and environment cell enhanced
  • Trade fare section enhanced
  • Reformation has been made in the number of committees and forums
  • Employers handbook on IR published
  • Youth Entrepreneurship forum functioning on youth employment
  • Coordinating implementation of Youth and Small Enterprise Self Employment Programme

He further stated the importance of social dialogue in enabling success of, among others, central level and tri partied discussions. This enabled an 11 point agreement with trade unions, including wages, social security, unlawful strikes, trade union commitment for maintaining discipline and industrial peace.

Much emphasis is placed on environment related issues as well as CSR initiatives.

Observations by:

Mr. Gotabaya Dassanayaka

  • Governance of Employers Organizations – Roles of Boards and Secretariats have to be enhanced and it is vital that a healthy balance is maintained
  • Services – have to be run on a business model, otherwise sustainability will suffer. Nepal was commended for breaking through the no-fee model
  • Networking – EFC was commended for having a good HR network in place. Networking in general has to be strengthened across the region
  • The positive aspect for employers’ organizations in the Asian region is that many of the employers organizations are trade unions themselves and hence enjoy trade union immunities.

Mr. Arnout De Koster, Manager Employers’ Activity Unit, ITC ILO Turin Italy

  • A proactive approach must be taken by employers’ organizations in putting forward a global business agenda thereby urging the governments to take up the issues as important.
  • The employers organizations must take into consideration global business environment and implement accordingly.
  • Statistics indicate that the issue of enforcements of contracts seems to be a common problem among the region and it is important that this is looked into and rectified.

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